Sketch for a short history of the gramophone, to be read repeatedly before bedtime
Reading and writing; storing and scanning; recording and replaying; speaking and listening. More so than the printing press or the player piano, it was Edison’s gramophone that first combined the dual motion indispensable to any universal machine.
Memories haunt them
It is, in principle, always the same stylus that engraves and traces, the same stylus that began as a tuning fork, modded to record its own vibrations: a pig’s bristle, attached to one of the tongues, etching frequency curves into sooty glass.
Dog days drawing
In 1923, Moholy-Nagy writes of transforming the gramophone “from an instrument of reproduction into an instrument of production, generating acoustic phenomena without any previous acoustic existence by scratching the necessary marks onto the record” (der Sturm no. 7, “Neue Gestaltung in der Musik. Möglichkeiten des Gramophons”).
Being, lost forever
“If we imagine one hand writing upon the surface of the Mystic Writing-
Pad while another periodically raises its covering sheet from the wax slab, we
shall have a concrete representation of the way in which I tried to picture the
functioning of the perceptual apparatus of our mind.” –Freud
Deep and dark hours
Humans are forgetful and gods are hard of hearing: Nietzsche’s theory of poetry. Poetry began as a solution to a technological problem: the limits of memory; the demands of ritual. Poetry’s answer was repetition (Greece) or rhyme (Europe).
The point of decline
“Let us start with three tape recorders in the Garden of Eden. Tape recorder one is Adam. Tape recorder two is Eve. Tape recorder three is God, who deteriorated after Hiroshima into the Ugly American. Or, to return to our primeval scene: tape recorder one is the male ape in a helpless sexual frenzy as the virus strangles him. Tape recorder two is the cooing female ape who straddles him. Tape recorder three is DEATH.” –Burroughs
…Invisible, to some extent…
RIP Freddy Kittler